Nylon strings on a steel string dulcimer

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
4 weeks ago
768 posts

I agree pretty much with Ken Hulme; especially the need to change the slots in the nut and bridge. Depending upon how sturdily built your dulcimer is will determine how well the nylon strings work. Have fun experimenting.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 weeks ago
1,812 posts

This subject comes up every few months.  You can Search here for other responses to the question.   

Here's my take:   Nylon strings seldom work well on a conventional dulcimer, as the instruments are build too heavily to respond well to the more subtle vibrations of nylon strings.  Bridge intonation position is a factor of string length relative to diameter, not string composition.  You can leave it where it is or ignore it entirely.  Action height may need to be raised as nylon strings will not be as taut.  Nut/Bridge slots may not be suitable -- too small for the larger diameters of nylon strings.   Do nothing until you actually put nylon strings on the instrument and try them for awhile.

NateBuildsToys
NateBuildsToys
@natebuildstoys
4 weeks ago
57 posts

Hello all I have been wanting to try putting nylon strings on my dulcimer just to see how it sounds. What I am wondering is whether nylon strings need different intonation and bridge placement than steel strings. Can I simply leave the bridge in the same place, or will I need to adjust it? Will I need a different action height? Are there other complications that I should be wary of? Thanks for any input :)

-Nate